For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Bridesmaids star Chris O'dowd's TV presenter wife Dawn O' Porter and British actress Emerald Fennell have been shortlisted for the U.K.'s coveted Children's Book Prize. O' Porter's first novel for youths, Paper Aeroplanes, which was inspired by her own upbringing on the British island of Guernsey, is up for Best Book for Teens, while Anna Karenina star Fennell is in the running in the Best Fiction for 5-12s section for her release Shiverton Hall, about the strange goings-on in a haunted school.
Fennell will compete against screenwriter and director Soman Chainani, whose book The School for Good and Evil has already been picked up for a film adaptation by executives at Universal Pictures.
Performance poet Laura Dockrill and TV producer Piers Torday, son of late Salmon Fishing In The Yemen author Paul Torday, are also nominated in the same category for their works Darcy Burdock and The Last Wild, respectively.
The recipients of the two awards, in addition to the Best Picture Book title, will be announced in April (14), with the three winners then going head-to-head for the overall Children's Book Prize title.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Irish actor Chris O'dowd is setting down roots in Los Angeles - he's purchased a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home in West Hollywood. The Bridesmaids star and his wife, Dawn Porter, paid $872,500 (£562,903) for the new pad, according to TMZ.com.
The Bridesmaids star is on honeymoon in America with his new bride, British journalist and TV presenter Dawn Porter, and they were told the unhappy news by a friend who is house-sitting for them.
They both took to their Twitter.com pages to post pictures and appeal for help tracking down the missing moggy, a Siamese seal-point named Lilu.
The funnyman has even offered a cash reward for her safe return, tweeting, "Please help find our stupid cat. Went missing in SE (South East) London. Siamese. Blue eyes.... Reward £££"
Porter adds, "We are on honeymoon and my friend who is taking care of her is very worried and upset, as are we... Where is Ace Ventura (fictional pet detective) when you need him?... I am trying to stay calm. That darn cat!!!... Horrible being away when something like this happens."
The stars married in August (12), but delayed their honeymoon until this month (Dec12) due to their busy schedules.
The couple is spending time in Los Angeles, but their relaxing trip was ruined when a pal informed them their pet cat Lilu had disappeared from their London home.
In a series of posts on her Twitter.com page, Porter writes, "My Siamese cat Lilu has gone missing. Seal Point (brown and cream). Kink at base of tail. Bermondsey area...
"Thank you! We are on honeymoon and my friend who is taking care of her is very worried and upset, as are we."
O'Dowd later re-tweeted the message from his account.
The Bridesmaids star, who married TV host/journalist Porter in August (12), gave his thousands of Twitter.com followers a glimpse into his honeymoon by posting a snap of the brunette beauty in her underwear.
O'Dowd has now revealed his partner was "shocked" when she found out what he had done, but insists he only published the intimate picture because he was so proud of his sexy bride.
He tells Britain's Marie Claire magazine, "It wasn't a very 'me' thing to do, and she was a bit shocked, but I thought she looked amazing and I was so proud.
"You don't realise how many people will pick up on it; sometimes I treat Twitter like it's a bunch of people I know."
O'Dowd captioned the saucy shot, "There are times for restraint and there are times to boast about your sexy new wife! Look what I got!" while Porter tweeted, "That wasn't the wedding photo I was planning to release."
Mauboy, who was a runner-up on Australian Idol in 2006, struck up a close friendship with the Bridesmaids star and she was only too happy to perform at his August (12) nuptials to TV presenter Dawn Porter.
She tells Britain's Daily Mail, "I'd seen Chris in Bridesmaids, so I was thrilled to find out he'd been cast. I was quite nervous when I first met him. I knew I could sing but I've never been to acting school so I was worried I might not measure up. But Chris put me at ease.
"I was at a party in Cannes when Dawn suddenly approached me. She was stumbling over her words, which wasn't like her. Finally, she managed to blurt out: 'You don't have to if you don't want to but I'd really love it if you would sing Chris and me down the aisle.'
"I couldn't believe it. She gave me a short list of songs to choose from and I immediately went for Halo by Beyonce."
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
The couple exchanged vows in August (12), but rather than changing her surname fully, the TV star now wants to be known as Dawn O'Porter in a bid to maintain her public identity.
She tells Britain's Glamour magazine, "I am often asked why my surname is so important to me. My name and I have been through so much together. I have spent most of my adult life trying to get people to remember it, to watch my shows, to read my work, to see my name and think, 'Oh, it's that girl, her name is Dawn Porter.' Rather than just being 'the girl from that thing I watched last night'.
"My husband, Chris, is fine for me not to be called Mrs O'Dowd; but still, I know he likes that people see us as a unit, a family, a married couple - and so do I. So, for now, I've worked out a compromise that suits us well: I have taken the 'O'.
"Members of my family think this is ridiculous, but we don't care. I am lucky that I have the option to keep Porter prominent and take a tiny letter that, for me, expresses the unity with my husband that I am proud of."